Joe Biden’s chilly relationship with Vladimir Putin has gotten a good deal of media play this week after the nation’s 46th president accused the Russian leader of being a killer and vowed revenge for alleged interference in November’s election.
In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous that aired on Tuesday, Biden regaled the host with a story of his meeting with Putin back when he was Barack Obama’s vice president.
When prompted by the longtime Clinton family loyalist on whether he believes that Putin has a soul, Biden responded that “I did say that to him, yes,” Biden answered. “And — and his response was, ‘We understand one another.’ It was — I wasn’t being a wise guy. I was alone with him in his office. And that — that’s how it came about. It was when President Bush had said, ‘I looked in his eyes and saw his soul.’”
Biden continued, “I said, ‘Looked in your eyes and I don’t think you have a soul.’ And looked back and he said, ‘We understand each other,’” in recounting the conversation to the mesmerized host.
While the story isn’t new, it did generate headlines as well as a response from Putin who got over on Biden by inviting him to engage in a televised live debate knowing full well that his handlers would never allow such a thing to happen.
But it’s another story from Biden’s 2011 trip to Moscow where he was punked by Putin that isn’t as well known and was revealed by a former White House stenographer who accompanied the veep on the trip when both were working for Obama.
According to the account by Mike McCormick, the Russians reveled in the “almost ritualistic humiliation” of the bloviating career politician. When Biden veered off into a lecture of Russian abuses during the Cold War era, he was literally shut down.
McCormick wrote of the incident in an article for the National Pulse: “As Joe Biden’s White House stenographer, I stood directly behind Putin at a distance of five feet. Biden, seated across from Putin at an elegant conference table, was about 12 feet from me.”
The following incident made such an impression on the stenographer that he devoted an entire chapter of his book Joe Biden Unauthorized to it; the chapter is entitled “B**** Slapped in Moscow.”
He continued, “About 10 minutes into the meeting, Vice President Biden attempted to start lecturing about his decades-old part in U.S.-Russian negotiations with the dreaded phrase, “I’ve been around a long time. The first time I was here…”
Then Putin brought down the curtain; “Joe Biden got about one sentence further into that spiel when off went his microphone, off went the lights for the TV cameras, and stern Russian voices were commanding the press to leave. And leave they did.”
“They went out quickly and efficiently, with videocameras popping off of tripods. Equipment snapping shut. Portable lights clattering down retractable poles. No one spoke, and no one dared linger,” McCormick recalled.
The humiliation has to have stung Biden and may even be contributing to his ongoing provocations of a country that is a nuclear powerhouse with an arsenal of sophisticated next-generation weapons.
It also shows that Biden is not respected by many foreign leaders as was evident when new Secretary Of State Tony Blinken was harshly rebuked by Chinese officials during the ill-fated meeting in Alaska this week.
The lack of respect for Biden can’t be helped by his ugly stumble on the steps to Air Force One on Friday that has received international coverage and provides fuel for those who have suggested that Biden isn’t fit for the job.